The Veggie Table: Vegetarian and Vegan Resolutions

Whether your New Year's resolutions was to adopt a vegetarian diet or you just want to eat more plant-based foods, here are four ways to help you eat more vegetables.
By: Janel Ovrut Funk
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This time of year always brings on lots of buzz about healthy resolutions and diet changes. More and more Americans have been making the shift towards a vegetarian or vegan diet, and what better time to start than the beginning of a new year? Perhaps your resolution is to move towards a more plant-based diet, or make the full shift from vegetarian to vegan eating. Or maybe you’re just looking for ways to improve your health by including more fruits and veggies into your diet while cutting back on meat and dairy. Whatever your reason, here are four ideas to help you stick with your 2013 resolution to improve your health with more plant-based eating.

Make one meal per day plant based. Without even realizing it, some of your favorite meals may already be vegan or vegetarian! Spaghetti and marinara sauce, loaded veggie pizza, and veggie lo mein, to name a few. Commit to making one meal every day meat-free. Breakfast is likely the easiest meatless meal, since cereal, toast, oats and eggs are pretty standard, and are all meatless. If you've already mastered a meat-free breakfast, move on to lunch or dinner. Swap your daily turkey sandwich for a hummus and veggie pita pocket, or your go-to dinner of chicken and veggies to a savory tofu stir fry.

Try one new ingredient per week. Perhaps you've already dabbled in cooking tofu, or enjoy almond milk instead of cow’s milk. It’s time to expand your ingredient repertoire and kick your cooking up a notch with tempeh or nutritional yeast. Not sure where to start? Meat eaters love my crunchy tempeh tacos and tempeh lettuce cups, and sprinkling nutritional yeast (found in most health food stores) on air-popped popcorn gives it a cheesy flavor with a vitamin B12 boost.

Sometimes we lose sight of our healthy resolutions for lack of inspiration. Make it a point to subscribe to a vegan or vegetarian blog, recipe email subscription, or pick up a new cookbook. You can find some of my favorite vegetarian and vegan blogs and cookbooks here and here.

Tweak a favorite recipe to be meat free. You may find that mom’s famous meat lasagna tastes just as great using chopped spinach, onions and mushrooms in place of ground beef. Or that chicken noodle soup is just as comforting when made with chickpeas. With a few simple changes, you may be adding new favorites to your recipe collection.

Wishing you and yours a happy and healthy 2013!
TELL US: Did you set any healthy New Year’s resolutions this year?

Janel Funk, MS RD LDN, loves experimenting with vegetarian and vegan cooking. Read her food blog, Eat Well with Janel, and follow her on Twitter @DietitianJanel.  Catch up on her previous posts here.

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